Here comes a true arcade classic. Rampart is one of the games, which once filled the gaming arcades all over the world. Originally released by Atari in the late 80s it is one of the rare games that is both simple and addicting in the glimpse of an eye. Another expression, which comes to my mind, is “pure”… Rampart is pure arcade gaming!
The game features both single and multiplayer modes. The single player is all about defending an island against attacking ships. After choosing your army’s colour at the beginning of the game, you see an overview of the island, which is separated into several regions you have to defend in any order you like. When you’ve decided, which region to start with, the overview zooms to a map of the respective region and you have to select your home-castle. This castle is surrounded with walls and right after placing some cannons, the first attackers appear.
The game itself is divided into two phases then. First is the fire-phase. In this one you have the simple goal to destroy as many of the attacking ships as possible. The better your aiming skills are, the less damage your own fortifications will take. Fire and destroy! After a short while the first phase ends and the real challenge begins: the build-phase. Here you have to repair and try to extend your fortress in a very limited time using Tetris-like blocks as wall segments. These blocks may be rotated as in Tetris and will most surely not fit into your wall’s gaps properly. The larger the surrounded area and the more castles are within, the more points you’ll get to buy new cannons. At the end of the phase you have to have at least one castle surrounded with walls, else you’ll lose the game. Then the additional cannons may be placed and the next fire-phase is about to begin… All this might not sound too interesting, but you’ll be astonished, how fast this game draws you into its grasp.
The main strength of the game lies in its versus mode, however. As Rampart’s origin is the gaming arcade, you might imagine that it is more of a console-style party game, than being suited for single player PC gamers. Unlike in single player your opponents are not unknown ships, but your friends sitting right next to you in front of the same computer. Each player has his own castle and may destroy his opponents at will. This fact may breed bad blood and even result in contusions sometimes, depending on you’re friends and your own aiming skills. Almost understandable, as it is greatest fun to send your defeated mates to the guillotine and chop their heads off (symbolically, of course).
The game’s graphics are good and functional, nothing more. But more is not needed, however. The sound is quite good and even shows some pieces of digitized speech, and in addition to the original release, the PC version features up to three players instead of only two and therefore even improves the fun in versus mode. The downside is, that few PCs feature three joysticks or gamepads and most players will have to squeeze themselves in front of a single keyboard. After all the keys for all players may be defined freely in the game setup. Alas, this is the only advantage compared to the original arcade game and the reason why I can do nothing else, but rate this game with a moderate 3. It hurts somehow, but everyone knowing the original arcade machine will understand this decision and nevertheless still download the game. Everybody not knowing the game machine should really take a look at this still good conversion of one of the greatest arcade games ever made!
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